Thursday, June 21, 2012

Win-Those people back

Which is exactly what Microsoft is trying to do,and to an extent,they are succeeding. 

Having successfully previewed the full grown desktop version of Windows 8,the ARM based tablet version and then,the phone version of Windows 8,Microsoft have announced their roadmap for the next version of their OS.And boy,have they made their presence felt ! 
The first of the lot was the desktop version.Windows 8 was unlike the previous versions of Windows.It was an app-centered OS,much like what the Mac OS was turning into.It had borrowed the look from the mobile version of the OS,the Metro UI.The UI itself is light and beautiful,but navigating through it using a mouse,not the best of the UX. Though,windows didn't forget about its file-system,which is why they had a desktop mode as well.Switching between the 2 is easy,but consistency between the modes,is far from achieved.Eg IE in the Metro mode,and the IE in desktop mode are two different applications all together.You open IE in Metro,login to your mail,switch to desktop mode,and you expect IE to continue its work.But,IE is not even started in desktop mode.This is something that Microsoft needs to look upon.
Then came the much awaited tablet version of the Windows 8 iteration,Windows RT. Now,Microsoft were the original pioneers of tablet computing,when Bill Gates announced a Windows XP based tablet in 2002,way back before Apple did.To refresh our memories,at around 2002,Apple had just released the iPod,and iPhone and iPad were long way out of sight. But,I guess the world wasn't ready for device between the Laptops and Phones,and the Slate,never really caught on in the market. 
Tablet PC have come a long way since then.Starting off just as an entertainment device,tablets have now gone to configurations,of most laptops available in the market.With extension docks,they have come to a point of driving the laptops into oblivion,owing to its portability,at almost the same capabilities. 
Microsoft just didn't launch its software,it showed off its hardware as well for the new Windows RT version,the Surface.A HD display,with a 16:9 aspect ratio,expansion slots,USB 3.0,connectors,a built-in kick-stand ,barely as thick as a credit-card,and a host of other features.But the real deal was the magnetic cover-cum-keyboard.At just 3 mm of thickness,this thing houses a full keyboard and a trackpad as well.And when you are done with your typing,just roll it over,and,voila,it covers the screen.(Yeah,yeah .. Apple did it first,I know .. But even Jobs might be rolling in his grave seeing this).
And they didn't stop there,no sir!The Surface has an elder sibbling,dubbed,Surface Pro.While they may look similar,the Pro houses a Intel's core processor,as opposed to NVIDA's ARM based Tegra chip on the Surface.Basically,what this means is,its a laptop internal,trapped inside a tablet.And,it also runs the desktop version of Windows 8.AND,it boasts a Pen as an input medium,apart from the normal touch.The cool thing about the pen input,called the 'palm block',is the fact that when you switch it switch to the pen mode,it automatically blocks your hand as an input device.Again,brilliant execution by Microsoft !

With back-to-back successful version,it looks as if Windows has finally broken its jinx of having every alternate version,as a successful one.

Since,the Surface Pro is basically as good as a laptop,and the fact that it runs Windows(duh!),the growing trend of Bring Your Own Device,is surely going to welcome this device.

With the tablet version still basking in its glory,Microsoft preview the Windows Phone 8 version(Apollo),and,one-by-one ticked off all the flaws from Mango.Support for multi-core processors,higher  resolution(720p),Skype integration and much awaited support for SD card.Though,there are still many things,like a notification center,or previews on the lockscreen,which still have been overlooked.
Nokia's turn-by-turn navigation maps,are now inbuilt in the OS,with offline support.
The upgrades though,came at a cost.As none of the existing devices support support multicore processors,the new iteration won't work on any of the existing devices.But,Microsoft has promised a slightly lighter version for existing Mango users,with features like the new start screen.

But,the best thing Microsoft has done with the Apollo is code sharing.All the versions of the Windows,will share the same code-base and kernel.Basically,now what you can run on your desktops,will work on your tablet,which will also work on your phones.Since,the devices will have the same kernel at its heart and the same driver codes,apps can be moved from one platform to the other,with very little changes.
What Windows has now created with this move,is their own little ecosystem.Switching from laptop to tablet to phone,will become a child's play.Windows already dominates the desktop market,but it is the tablet and phone that they lag behind,and with this move,people would flock to the ecosystem,given the convenience.

Microsoft have created brilliant products before as well(Zune Player),but getting through is people is where they have failed.The majority of the work is done.If they manage to pull this off,Microsoft would a step closer,to world domination(muhahahahahaha !).

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